|Picture from LatinTimes|
‘You’re so powerless, Pilate,’ Jesus thought as he stood in the praetorium. The prefect of Caesar had washed his hands off his responsibility to uphold the truth.
‘What is truth?’ he had asked.
He did not wait for an answer. Jesus was not going to answer him anyway. He knew as well as Pilate that definitions were not what mattered to either of them. ‘I am the truth,’ Jesus had said many times. ‘You are the truth,’ he would have told Pilate, ‘if you wish to be.’
‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ The crowd outside the praetorium clamours louder and louder. Being very religious, they have not entered the praetorium. The praetorium is a pagan place and Yahweh’s chosen people should not enter pagan places on the Passover day lest they be defiled.
The High Priests, Annas and Caiaphas, instigated the people by wielding their religious power. Jesus had set the axe at the very root of their religion. Their religion meant rubrics and rituals. Jesus told them to dump those things. Teach people to love. That’s the only religion: love. Everything else will follow once people learn to love. Compassion will follow. Goodness will. Truth too.
The priests do not want love, compassion, goodness, truth. They want rubrics and rituals. They want power. That’s what you want too, Pilate: power. I saw your knees shaking when these people said, ‘If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend.’ You know very well, Pilate, that these people are playing a game. They shout, ‘We have no king but Caesar.’ But you know that they detest Caesar more than Caesar detests them. Right now they want my death because they think I’m decimating their religion. The priests made them believe that. It is very easy to make people believe such things because they really don’t want love and truth and such things. They want power. The priest loves his power over his flock. The chief priests love their power over the priests and the people under those priests. The High Priest loves his power over everyone. You love your power over all of them, Pilate. You are all in love with power. Yes, safeguard your power, Pilate, by bowing to their wish. Otherwise they will ask Caesar to decimate you. To avoid a political turmoil from a people whom Caesar detests the most, he will grant their demand and decimate you. Save your power, Pilate. Send me to the cross that they have already prepared for me. I love that cross now. It will liberate me from myself, from my heart that cannot let love be buried beneath an ossified heap of rubrics and rituals.
‘Behold the man!’ Pilate brought Jesus out. The man looked terribly pathetic. Pilate had asked his soldiers to scourge him. The soldiers revelled in that job. They loved to scourge people. It intoxicated them. Every lash of the whip on a helpless man’s flesh rose like a froth of frenzy in the soldiers’ veins. They loved it. They relished it especially when one of them brought a ring of thorns and fixed it on Jesus’ head and mocked him saying, ‘Ah, there! Now you look like a king. The King of Jews. Ha ha ha.’
‘Behold the man!’ The sight of the man with whiplashes all over his body and blood-spattered face intoxicated the people. ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate was disillusioned. He had thought that the sight would arouse pity.
That’s what I told you, Pilate. I belong to the cross. I embrace the cross happily in order to save my heart.